Eye-opening, real, thought-provoking.
Recensito nel Regno Unito 🇬🇧 il 24 maggio 2018
“Stay or go. Fight all flight. Truth or Dare. Which is it to be?”
Joanna is a normal young woman. She’s married to the man she loves and is starting to think about having children. But one night Joanna goes out with a friend at a bar and everything changes. At the end of the night she’s heading home alone and hears footsteps following behind her. She recognises his shoes as the same as that guy who sexually harassed her in the bar earlier and she panics. She pushes him, hard, down a flight of steps and now he’s not moving. Joanna must then decide whether to phone an ambulance, own up to her mistake and go through the legal system or run away and deny everything.
The premise of this novel was instantly sold to me when I read Claire Douglas’ description of it as “A Sliding Doors thriller with a moral dilemma at its heart.” This sounded exactly like the kind of the book I would love and I did really adore its premise. The novel switches between two possible outcomes of Joanna’s decision to either ‘reveal’ or ‘conceal’. I was initially very intrigued to find out the result of each possibility and as expected, both scenarios carried their own misfortunes and resulted in big changes is Joanna’s life. This novel really scared me because of how very real this moral dilemma felt. Like most other young women, I could imagine myself innocently caught in this scenario and I felt I could relate to Joanna’s feelings throughout various consequences of her actions. I think we would all like to think we’d take the moral high ground and own up to our mistakes despite where the justice system may lead us. However, I think we would all wonder what would have happened if we tried to cover it up instead and this book satisfied this curiosity wonderfully.
What I really loved about this book was that it really opened my eyes to the mechanics of the legal system. I have certainly watched a few too many crime thrillers on the telly throughout my life time but it was really refreshing to read about a realistic portrayal of the legal system. The writer, Gillian McAllister, is a lawyer and so I believe the representation of the system is mostly accurate unlike my favourite crime shows. I was initially worried the writer’s background may cause bias in terms of representation of the law, however, I am happy to say that this wasn’t the case at all. McAllister offers two very realistic scenarios of running from the law and working alongside it. As the story shows, both alternatives have negative impacts and it’s hard to judge which choice was the ‘right’ one for Joanna even by the end of the novel. It definitely makes the reader question what is right or wrong and why and I think this is a really interesting book for everyone to read.
Politically and sociological speaking, I found it really fascinating watching the two alternate realities unfold. I liked how in the reality where Joanna reveals her mistake the media very much takes on a feminist stance, arguing how Joanna acted the same way any young woman would if she felt she were being followed by a man late at night. On the flip side, when Joanna conceals her mistake and the police are investigating, the media present the case as a race crime. I found these details particularly interesting and clever as I imagine this is very much how the media would respond to story such as Joanna’s. Additionally, I thought the concept of ‘justice’ was explored particularly well. In some ways, the justice system was represented as being unfair to individuals such as Joanna. It, again, forces us to question, is it right to punish people for making mistakes that they regret?
This portrayal of justice is particularly effective when combined with how Joanna’s justice (or lack of) effects not only her own life, but also the lives of all those around her. The book is largely focused on how Joanna’s crime impacts the dynamic of her relationship with her husband Reuben. We see how both her confession and her secret nearly destroys her marriage in a number of ways but we also see how justice changes how people see their lives. For example, how Joanna’s friend Laura completely changes her life around because of the realisation of what Joanna is going through. The last section of the book focuses in particular on the consequences of justice. It was interesting to see how Joanna’s experiences after the court room affected her life but also how her secret lead to paranoia and guilt. I think this is something we don’t often think about, especially in a lot of crime books, movies and TV shows which usually finish before we see the end result.
Although I absolutely loved the concept and premise of the novel, I wasn’t as amazed by the writing itself. For me, the concept and the plotline of the novel fully deserved five stars, however, the writing itself deserved perhaps only three stars. I just felt as though the writing itself didn’t give the concept justice. It wasn’t awfully written, I just personally didn’t connect to the writing. It didn’t flow that well, in some places it felt really slow and dragged on a bit. I thought the ending was a bit too long and definitely could have been cut down a bit. Maybe this novel would have worked better as a novella, that way I think you’d lose the slow parts and it would feel a lot more fast paced. Having said this, I also appreciate that I haven’t read many crime thrillers and maybe this is just the nature of the genre. I just wish there had been a bit more action and drama. Even the characters felt a bit two-dimensional. I thought the writing just didn’t quite portray Joanna’s thoughts and emotions in the way I imagined she would be feeling. Even the minor characters didn’t seem to have a great deal of substance or individuality. In my opinion, I think the concept was fantastic, I just wish maybe it had been written by another writer.
Overall, I did really enjoy reading this one. I highly recommend if you have an interest in crime or morality as it brings up a lot of interesting themes. I think this book would also be really great if you’re looking for a slightly slower paced thriller that isn’t so intense on the action-side of things. It’s also such a great read just to find out more about the police, the law and court as I certainly learnt a lot from reading this! It’s just a really nice change of structure if your looking to read something a bit different with a more unique premise, it was really different from anything else I’ve read. It certainly left me thinking and contemplating and I won’t be forgetting this book anytime soon!
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